10 April 2017

Therapeutic spermatozoa

Spermatozoa have been proposed to be used in the fight against cancer in women

Sergey Vasiliev, Naked Science

The problem of point delivery of antitumor drugs is one of the most urgent in oncology. Many of these drugs easily harm healthy cells of the body, and it is possible to increase the selectivity of their action if you achieve control over the delivery and release of the drug in the tumor. For this purpose, a variety of approaches are being tested, from the creation of artificial nanoparticles to the modification of living lymphocytes.

But scientists from the Dresden Institute of Solid State Physics and Materials named after Leibniz drew attention to other cells of the human body – spermatozoa. Like lymphocytes, they are mobile. Moreover, for millions of years of evolution, they have perfected the ability to move in a rather complex environment of female reproductive organs. Why not use them to deliver drugs to the tumor if it affects these organs?

Oliver Schmidt and his colleagues tested this concept in practice (article by Xu et al. The Sperm-hybrid micromotor for drug delivery in the female reproductive tract is published on the arXiv website). To do this, tiny (5 microns in diameter) structures resembling cylinders with four blades covered with the thinnest layer of iron were obtained. In laboratory experiments, spermatozoa mixed with them and "stuck" their heads inside the cylinders, turning into their engines.

By directing such structures with an external electromagnetic field, scientists completely controlled their movement. They were forced to face the culture of tumor cells and open up under the pressure of the "sperm engine" that did not stop working, throwing out the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin.

The scheme of "sperm" drug delivery (from the article by Xu et al.)

It is worth adding that the journey that the spermatozoa made during the experiments was quite short – a few centimeters, but already during this time the cells burdened with iron "caps" noticeably lost mobility. In addition, spermatozoa will need to be additionally freed from genetic material in order to avoid a possible pregnancy of the patient. Finally, there are a number of ethical issues, so even if scientists manage to solve technical problems, it is unlikely that such an unusual procedure will find wide application in the near future.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru  10.04.2017

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